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Margaret Atwood and Her Contribution to Literature and Society

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Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author who was born in 1939. When Atwood was eleven she spent half of each year in northern Ontario because her father worked as an entomologist, a insect scientist. One of the many things that she enjoyed doing while she was away from school was writing. At age six Atwood was already writing plays, poems, comic books and she also started a novel. Her writing started to resurface when she was in high school. At the age of sixteen she decided to pursue writing as lifetime career.

Atwood was a known feminist campaigner in 1960s which is why her writing back in the 1970s and still today is praised by feminists. Although she is a feminist supporter, she does not identify as a feminist author. As we know the feminist movement began in the 1960s, this was the time women were fighting for gender equality. During this time period/ movement Atwood was inspired and inspiring through her writings about her views on feminism. For example, in 1969 she wrote her book “The Edible Women”, which has a lot of feminist elements and ideas. In 1994 Atwood gave a speech called “Spotty Handed Villainesses: Problems of Female Bad Behavior in The Creation of Literature”. The purpose of her giving this speech was to show how women are represented in literature, specifically focusing on evil or bad women. For, example the title says it all. This speech is very significant because it reflects how much of a feminist Atwood is. It also shows her inspirations for her stories/poems.

In her speech Atwood focuses on a couple of things. One of the main things that she focusses on is the fact in literature the women are capable of evil and it should not be ignored, instead it needs to be acknowledged. Another topic that Atwood heavily covers in her speech is that evil characters are very important in literature because they make the story interesting. In Atwood’s speech she says, “Evil women are necessary in story traditions why shouldn’t their many-dimensionality be given literary expression?”. This quote goes back to Atwood’s focus that women are capable of evil. This quote shows Atwood emphasizing the idea that women can be evil, she is saying that the serotype that says women are not the evils one in literature should die because “Evil women are necessary in story traditions… they exist in life, so why shouldn’t they exist in literature?”. In addition, Atwood also argues that the evil characters are the most interesting because it makes literature more enjoyable this in a way shows her way of writing. Many of Atwood’s work have been influenced by the waves of feminism.

As mentioned earlier Atwood’s book “The edible Woman” was written around the same time as the emergence of feminism. In this book gender roll is one of the biggest themes. This is important because it shows that the feminist movement is one of the reasons why the author tends to write a lot about women in society. Atwood being known as a well writer helped shape why she writes about feminism because many feminists looked up to her during that time because of her literature. Even though Margaret Atwood is a well-respected feminist, some feel that she is not a good feminist. Atwood has “been losing her feminist luster for many millennial feminists (and feminists of other generations) since November 2016, when she signed a petition calling for an independent investigation into the University of British Columbia’s firing of Steven Galloway, the former UBC prof accused of sexual assault and harassment by a student”. This shows why some may say that Atwood is a bad feminist because if you are to say you are a feminist then you can’t do things like that. This is ironic because people would not think that she would support a man sexually assaulting his students because she is a feminist and overall because it is something horrible.

Atwood is significant to the literary world for several reasons. Atwood’s work has influenced lives. For example, many women see Atwood as an outstanding feminist because of her writings. Atwood work is praised by many feminists. Atwood has also influenced many films based on her work. For example, her book the Handmaid’s Tale is a show and a film. There are also other films such as Alias Grace and Payback that were inspired by Atwood’s work.

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